Metal is a tricky genre to tackle. It has so many different styles, genres, sub-genres, scenes, back-stories, and figures that it can be very difficult to know where to start. I mean, what is the difference between Brutal Death Metal, Doom Metal, Sludge Metal, Funeral Black Metal, Thrash Metal, etc? If you were just starting in the genre, you’d be completely lost. I myself have been listening to Metal albums since the 6th Grade and I’ve explored a wide array of genres. So, join me as we take a trip to the darker, more violent side of music as I list my Top 10 Metal Albums.
10. My Arms, Your Hearse- OPETH. Opeth are pretty much my favorite Metal band and they will be on this list again. This album is a perfect melding of their masterful Death Metal with the acoustic passages they so love to incorporate. It has some very strong songwriting (Demon of The Fall, April Etheral) and has a very interesting concept. If one were wishing to explore the more extreme forms of Metal, this would be my recommended starting point.
9. The Mantle- AGALLOCH. Agalloch are the perfect musical accompaniment for the Winter. This album is bleakly beautiful, with as much influence on incorporating Folk and Ambient influences into some crushing Black Metal. Icy, grey, and incredibly engrossing, this album is a magical find for any Metal fan. I love the atmosphere it creates, you can really get lost in it. It’s a world that you may not want to visit, but you may not be able to turn back.
8. Welcome To Sky Valley- KYUSS. This album is the aural equivalent of a hallucinogenic drive through a desert. It’s long, barren, and strangely moving. It could potentially act as the soundtrack for Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Dusty, heavy, but not dark. It’s a much more friendly Metal album. Another recommended starting point for new-comers.
7. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas- MAYHEM. Really the best and most important album to come out of the short-lived and volatile Norwegian Black Metal scene of the early 90s, this album is an evil, abrasive, noisy, heavy-hitting, slab of Metal that can easily swallow your soul. The newest addition to this list, I have been reading up on the aforementioned Black Metal scene and it was just as violent as the music it sprung. Along with Darkthrone’s A Blaze In The Northern Sky, this set the standard for so many different sects of Metal, even to this day. It’s not just important, it’s also really, really good.
6. Dopethrone- ELECTRIC WIZARD. Electric Wizard make some of the heaviest Metal in existence. And they sing about retro horror movies, sex, and drugs. Their aesthetic is nothing short of awesome. This is their heaviest album to date and it really reinvented the genre of Doom Metal. Before this album, Doom Metal was generally heavily influenced by bands like Iron Maiden. But this album made it sound, well, like we are all doomed. Huge waves of fuzz and distortion mask Satanic moaning and groaning on this classic horror-show. It’s right up my alley.
5. Master of Puppets- METALLICA. I understand why Metallica are no longer taken seriously. The Napster thing, their recently collaboration with Lou Reed which spawned the musical turd known as LuLu, the album St. Anger, one of the worst Metal albums in recent years, the therapy sessions, I understand it all. But in the 1980s, Metallica were a very fresh breath of air, and this album is the summit of that. It was also my first taste of Metal. It’s rather short for a Metal album, but long song lengths would probably just detract from the strong songcraft on display. Ignore the joke that Metallica became, and you’r left with an amazingly consistent album and some classic songs.
4. The Eye of Every Storm- NEUROSIS. This album is beautiful. I don’t mean that in the context of other Metal albums, this albums has some genuine beautiful passages. It takes the classic Sludge of prior Neurosis albums and expertly blends it with some killer Post-Rock. The hybrid blows me away. This album is long, it’s sprawling, and it is beautiful. Sit down, give yourself some time with it, and your life could be forever changed. I know someone will prefer the pure waves of Sludge from earlier Neurosis albums like Through Silver In Blood and while I do love that sound, I feel that Neurosis evolved to a higher level on this album.
3. Oceanic- ISIS. This album is every bit as beautiful, expansive, overwhelming, foreboding, swallowing, deadly, and prominent as its name and album artwork would suggest. Truly the ultimate realization of the Post-Metal genre, as pioneered by bands like Neurosis. A fantastic album, whose barrage of noise is surprisingly tuneful, and has some breathtaking ambient passages. I haven’t heard a lot like it. Who knows, it may just grow to be my favorite. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised.
2. Ghost Reveries- OPETH. My favorite album by my favorite Metal band. This album takes the usual Opeth sound and screws with it, adding in an orchestra and some Eastern-flavored guitar parts. It feels ancient, but completely precedent. The ghosts of the title hide in the shadows of songs like The Baying of The Hounds and Isolation Years, making it a strangely wistful Metal album that I find myself revisiting over and over again. It was No.1 for quite a bit of time, but it just recently got dethroned by………
1. Witchcult Today- ELECTRIC WIZARD. Simply put, this is everything I love in one Metal album. 70s Horror Movies, the Occult, Retro Exploitation, everything. If I made a Metal album, I’d imagine it would be this. Simply put, this is everything I could want from a Metal album and I know that it would not be a lot of Genre freaks No.1 pick, but it is mine. Not because it’s technically better than other any of the other albums on this list, but it just is to close to my tastes for me not to simply adore it. The song-writing is also masterful. But I suppose Dopethrone is their magnum opus. This one just opens itself up to me on a personal level. And because of that, it is my favorite album in the very wide Genre of Metal.
A Sun That Never Sets- Neurosis
Through Silver In Blood- Neurosis
When The Kite String Pops- Acid Bath
Altar- Sunn O))) & Boris
Still Life- Opeth
Blackwater Park- Opeth
Transylvania Hunger - Darkthrone
Seasons in The Abyss- Slayer
The Number of The Beast- Iron Maiden
Ashes Against The Grain- Agalloch
We Live!- Electric Wizard